How quickly is the Amazon Rainforest burning?

Answer: Too quickly — a rate of one football field a minute.

by / August 23, 2019

A record number of fires are wreaking havoc on the Amazon Rainforest, an event that only recently garnered any significant media attention thanks to efforts on social media. News outlets have increased their previously small or nonexistent coverage of the wildfires after popular figures like musician Jaden Smith and actor Leonardo DiCaprio shared images of the blazes on Instagram.

While this is good news and has raised awareness about the fires, it has also created a new problem: Some of these widely circulated photos are not of the current fires. While the image shared by Jaden Smith is of a large fire in the Amazon Rainforest, it was originally taken more than 30 years ago in June 1989. And the image shared by DiCaprio is at least one year old, appearing in a 2018 article about Amazon wildfires. 

These fires have been raging for the past three weeks, at a rate of one football field a minute. This is the fastest the Amazon has ever burned in recorded history, yet it has received very little international attention. Known colloquially as “the lungs of the earth,” the Amazon Rainforest supplies more than 20 percent of all of Earth’s oxygen. It’s an incredibly valuable ecosystem whose destruction will be devastating to our planet.

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